Good day for Zumaya, Porcello
Two scenes should give you most of what you need to know about the second day of pitcher-hitter meetings Friday.
- Miguel Cabrera smiling and yelling a torrent in Spanish back towards the mound, where Rick Porcello had just sent him swinging at a NASTY sinker and not coming close. Cabrera was having absolute fun with it, and he got a smile out of the normally unflappable Porcello.
- Alex Avila’s description of catching Joel Zumaya’s session: “My hands are going to be sore tomorrow.”
There were other encouraging signs for the Tigers. Nate Robertson had some bite back on his slider, for one, and Clay Rapada was consistently putting his pitches around the knees without leaving anything up. But Porcello and Zumaya were nasty today. Porcello was nasty enough that Magglio Ordonez, who was waiting for his turn against Edwin Jackson on an adjacent field, stepped out for a minute and walked next door to see what the hubbub was about Porcello.
“He’s got a presence,” Ordonez said later. “Good attitude. I like his attitude.”
The outing reinforces the consensus on Porcello: He has Major League stuff right now, but they have to figure out if he has the know-how to use it without the experience.
As for Zumaya, there’s a very businesslike presence to him, and he took it to the mound today. As soon as he walked out to the mound, he quickly pushed the protective screen out of the way and started his warmup tosses. He wasn’t throwing anywhere near full strength, but he was generating velocity. He also had movement going on his breaking ball. As for the split changeup I wrote about a few days ago, he threw some of those, too, which Avila described as nasty.
That decision to forgo the screen nearly came back to bite him when Cale Iorg hit a hard comebacker, but Zumaya deftly snared it, then hopped off the mound in a rare display of enthusiasm as teammates howled.
These are the moments that make these first few days of pitcher-batter matchups interesting. It’s called live batting practice, but as I’ve said before, the advantage clearly lies with the pitcher. As another player said, give Cabrera another couple weeks and let him get back into the box against Porcello. Still, putting a batter into the box gives the pitcher a frame of reference for the strike zone, and they can go about trying to hit it. Towards that goal, it was a very good day for the Tigers.